|UN declares emergency phase of Chernobyl disaster over|
|Written by Chris Perver|
|Wednesday, 21 November 2007 09:46|
A United Nations resolution has been adopted by the General Assembly declaring the " emergency phase" of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster over and calls for the " recovery phase" to begin. The Chernobyl nuclear reactor exploded in 1986, spreading a deadly cloud of radioactive dust across the Ukraine, Russia and much of Western Europe. The incident was initially covered up by the Soviet Union until increased radiation levels were detected in Sweden several weeks later. The World Health Organization concluded that the effects of the radioactive fallout from Chernobyl were much less severe than initially thought. A report published by the UN International Atomic Energy Agency in 2006 put the death toll of direct exposure to radiation at 56, and claimed that around 4000 people could die a premature death as a result of the disaster. Greenpeace published a report of their own which claimed that around 60,000 people died in Russia as a result of exposure to radiation from Chernobyl, and the death toll in the Ukraine and Belarus may have been around 140,000.
Quote: "Tuesday's UN declaration proclaimed the next 10 years as a decade of "recovery and sustainable development" of the affected areas. It said the focus should now be on helping the communities to reverse the domino effect of poverty, poor health and fear that had hampered growth in the region. The General Assembly also requested the UN secretary general to provide a report on recovery efforts in 2010. The declaration comes on the back of a report by the WHO which found "the health impact of the accident was much less severe than was initially feared", the BBC's Thomas Lane in New York says.
But with Chernobyl's concrete sarcophagus continuing to deteriorate and 95% of the plant's radioactive fuel remaining in the reactor core, one wonders how on earth the UN can declare the emergency over. A French company has been contracted to construct a steel arch to cover the reactor, but this is expected to take at least five years to complete and only then will the authorities be able to start dismantling Chernobyl. Millions of people across the continent were exposed to the deadly radiation, and tens of thousands of people still suffer from thyroid cancer, while thousands more are affected by diverse genetic deformities that may be passed on from generation to generation. The effects of the disaster are expected to last for many years to come.
Quote: "Several days after the accident, a vast radioactive cloud drifted across parts of the UK, leaving a blanket of poisonous caesium-137 over England, Wales and the south and west of Scotland. In 1986 and 1987, restrictions were imposed on approximately 10,000 farms, of which 2,144 were in Scotland alone. Restrictions in June 1986 covered 5,100 farms in North Wales, about 120 in Northern Ireland and 1,670 in Cumbria in England. It is estimated that compensation to all the sheep farms affected in Great Britain has cost British taxpayers £13m. Today, 386 British farms are still under restriction. According to the British government's Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, or Defra, these include nine farms in Cumbria with 11,500 sheep, 359 farms in Wales with 180,000 sheep and 18 farms in Scotland with 38,000 sheep. All farms in Northern Ireland were derestricted in 2000. In restricted areas, sheep have to be monitored with a Geiger counter before they can be sold to prevent contaminated meat from entering the foodchain.
It seems that if anything, Chernobyl is an accident just waiting to reoccur.